Friday, 6 April 2018

Homeopathic Treatment of Autism - Evidence #3

This post is about individual UK lay homeopaths who offer treatment for Autism. As has been pointed in in various posts treatment of autistic children is beyond the competence of any of them. It has also been pointed that advertising of such treatment breaches advertising regulation, consumer protection legislation and the Code of Ethics of the trade associations that they belong to.

One question raised in a previous post about CEASE therapy is whether UK lay homeopaths stick rigidly to Smit's pronouncements. In a way, whether they do or not is not really the issue. The issue is whether their practice represents a risk to autistic children or any other child for that matter. Giving out incorrect and even dangerous information is a warning sign, as is credulity.

Many UK lay homeopaths have no online presence bar being on simple listings. But others...

There will be several more of these blog posts. They are difficult to write and likely difficult to read.

Anna Rayner
Rayner is a member of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (ARH) who claims that she is "Specialising in the treatment of Autistic Spectrum Disorder". Rayner offers CEASE therapy.

Her page on treatment is not very informative but -
During the first consultation, I take a detailed timeline from pre-conception to present day of all possible toxic exposures. These may include any medication given to the mother near conception or during pregnancy/breastfeeding (e.g. IVF hormones, anti-sickness drugs, dental amalgam), labour meds, vaccinations, antibiotics, steroids, asthma medication, anaesthetics, large doses of paracetamol, to name the most common.
Of course, Tinus Smits, creator of CEASE therapy railed against all medication as toxic but mention of paracetamol comes very much from the world of anti-vaccinationists. Anti-vaccinationists often cite one or more of a tiny number of very poor studies as evidence. Rayner links to many anti-vaccinationists here. Rayner is very clearly an anti-vaccinationist.

Rayner has numerous blog entries and testimonials. These are more interesting than the rest of her website. One blogpost talks about Homeopathic Detox Therapy (HDT- essentially a variation on CEASE therapy) and a pilot study which involved 130 "parents who observed a temporal link between vaccination and the onset of their child’s health issues". Volunteers were requested via number of sources and they were sent a package of homeopathic remedies to give to their child over an 8 week period. Parents would send Rayner a "case history" and also observations of "improvements". There are many obvious flaws with this study - especially terms of the conclusions drawn from both the case histories and results - but the most glaring is that the parents are a self-selecting sample.

Rayner does not respond well to criticism. Apparently, news of her "pilot study" appeared on the Arnica Group Facebook page (more on them in a future post) and there was criticism of a one-size-fits-all approach. Someone also commented on the results of trial which drew a hostile reaction.

It is concerning that there appears to have been no ethical oversight of the study. True, the remedies given are so dilute that they are harmless but the instructions issued are deeply troubling from a safeguarding perspective.

The detox may provoke flare-up symptoms as they clear the toxins from your child’s body.  It may take the form of a cold or fever, the return of old symptoms or behaviour, or occasionally a temporary regression into an earlier stage of development.  We view this as a very positive thing – it means the body is using its energy to clear the toxins that your child has been exposed to.  
You may find old emotions such as frustration or anger resurfacing, or there may be a change in behaviour.  It may also include physical symptoms, such as increased urination, loose bowel movements, sweating, rashes etc. This is the body’s way of detoxifying and is worth waiting through. Parents often report step-change improvements after an intense flare-up; often the more intense the flare-up, the better the improvement experienced afterwards. If you are at all concerned about reactions your child is displaying, contact me immediately.  There are ways of attenuating the effect of the remedy.
With particular reference to fevers, if one should occur, ideally do not suppress it with Calpol or other paracetamol preparations. Obviously it is your personal choice how high you are comfortable letting a fever run, but we view fever as a very positive reaction to a remedy. Please read this post for more information on fevers. Try using Belladonna 200C to bring the fever down (also provided), and perhaps a cool bath, before resorting to Calpol. You can give 1 pillule Belladona every 15 mins during acute phase.
There is a disclaimer which is also repeated on Rayner's page about fevers along the lines of her not being a doctor and to contact a doctor if really worried but there are also the instructions to "contact me".

Ursula Kraus-Harper
Kraus-Harper is a member of the Society of Homeopaths and has been mentioned in a number of posts. Kraus-Harper has a page on her website about autism. It contains the chilling statement -
In the last six years I have seen 331 autistic children in my small practice.
Kraus-Harper would seem to use classical homeopathy but will use CEASE therapy. However, previous versions of her website suggest that she may have been much keener on CEASE therapy in the past. She does not appear to write much - although is possible she has written for homeopathic trade association magazines that are not in the public domain or on websites that no longer exist. She is known to have given a talk at a Treating Autism conference. Treating Autism is part of the anti-vaccination biomedical "cure" for autism nexus.
Our charity also runs an active Facebook community, a Twitter feed, and is a proud member of the Autism Collaboration whose members include Autism Research Institute (ARI), Autism One, Generation Rescue, National Autism Association, SafeMinds, Schafer Autism Report, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) and Unlocking Autism. 
Kraus-Harper believes that autism is caused by "toxic overload" which results in a "break-down of various body systems". There is no mention of energy fields or the like. 
In 80% or more of cases the story is one of regressive autism: up to the age of 15 to 24 months the child develops normally, meeting all the expected milestones, good eye-contact, first words, engaging with the world around them. Then something happens and within a shorter or longer period of time, the child regresses. Eye contact is lost, speech is lost, the child withdraws from the world around him or her, repetitive behaviours start, tip-toe walking may start, proper sleep becomes an issue, there is sensitiveness to noise or to touch or other such sensory processing issues.
If Kraus-Harper is speaking about her own cases, this seems at odds with research which suggests regression in approximately 25% to 30% of cases. Regression does not necessarily come out-of-the-blue. There may well have been subtle (possibly unnoticed) indications of development mental problems and nor is always dramatic and sudden. It is very tempting to ascribe regression to some external factor.

Kraus-Harper then lists various behaviours associated with autism. She paints a grim picture. In terms of causation...
More than with other children in see in my practice, pregnancy, birth and first year of life did not go so smoothly: IVF children, children delivered through Caesarean, Ventouse or forceps; bottle-fed children whose mothers were not able to produce enough milk, or found the process too painful, or the child refused the milk. Then maybe a vicious cycle of ear infections and upper respiratory infections suppressed by repeated courses of antibiotics begins. Soon followed by problems with digestion, for which more drugs are given. Then more vaccines, the first MMR and boosters of others. In many instances the parents say “It started after that vaccine”.
So, IVF drugs, antibiotics, formula milk, antibiotics and vaccines are the "toxins" that contribute to the "overload". No mention is made of bacterial toxins. There is a vague implication that "non-natural" birth is involved in autism. It appears that digestive issues are also implicated.
So, in short Autism, or more correctly Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a label for wide collection of symptoms that seem to show some form of inflammation of the brain and more often than not also a dysbiosis of the gut = an imbalance of the microbes that colonise our intestines. The connection between gut and brain is usually not acknowledged by mainstream medicine, although growing research and insights into the human microbiome are getting more widely known.
There is no firm evidence that prevalence of gastro-intestinal problems are higher in autistic children than the general population. Again, there is the question of whether Kraus-Harper's patients are in some way different from the autistic children in general.

Kraus-Harper offers treatment but there is no mention of children of being "cured" or improving in any way.

Kraus-Harper has a page on vaccination. However it is couched, it is clearly anti-vaccination and in breach of the Society of Homeopaths' stated position - which has been removed from public access.
If you decide for partial vaccination or against vaccination, the best alternative is to make sure that your children’s immune system is strong by giving them good food avoiding sugar, sweeteners, avoiding too many empty carbohydrates (white bread, pasta etc); giving them love and security; avoiding drugs and other chemicals, as these deplete the immune system, and using natural methods of health care as much as possible.
If you do not immunise your child against preventable disease, not treating disease with medicines is part of the alternative.
To protect your child - and yourself - it is hugely important to understand that the body has its own very powerful ability to deal with illness, and that it is important not to suppress this ability. Fevers, discharges, skin eruptions, vomiting, diarrhoea are all part of the body’s defence system in order to maintain homeostasis = a balance of health. Use natural methods to relieve the symptoms and to promote healing. Drugs should only be used in cases of emergency.
So, potential signs of serious illness are to be ignored? To quote from the page on autism again -
A careful selection of homeopathic remedies seems to stimulate the child's immune system to recover or improve in such a way that the usual symptoms associated with autism begin to recede in many children.
This seems to imply that Kraus-Harper believes that the immune system of autistic children is some how compromised. Her advice to use "natural methods" etc would not seem to sit well, but, of course, in the world of homeopathy antibiotics and vaccinations cause immune system problems.

The page on vaccination links to all sorts of strange anti-vaccinationist websites. It massively distorts the risks of vaccination and repeats so many of myths prevalent amongst anti-vaccinations it is impossible to draw any other conclusion that Kraus-Harper is a fervent anti-vaccinationist.

Previous versions of Kraus-Harper's website had sections on SCENAR and Asyra machines. Whether or not she still uses them is unknown. SCENAR is essentially a very expensive TENS machine with marketing makes overblown claims. Asyra is a completely different matter though - this article discusses actual tests of a very similar device. There is no indication of what the Asyra costs. 

Lindsay Newton
Newton is a member of the ARH. For light relief -
This is the best analogy I have heard to describe how a Homeopathic remedy works….

If you think about neat washing up liquid…you wouldn’t get very far trying to wash up some dishes using washing up liquid in its neat state. But, if you squirt a small drop of washing up liquid into a big bowl of water and swirl it around you have a very effective means of washing the dishes.
It is a very poor analogy. Newton talks about CEASE therapy in terms that are concerning. For example -
While his method was originally designed for children with autism, Dr. Smits and those that he trained have experienced success treating a number of conditions including MS, Chronic Fatigue, allergies, ear infections, hyperactivity, and detoxification.
The idea of CEASE therapy treating a bacterial infection seems odd but can successfully treat Multiple Sclerosis? CEASE therapy doesn't have anything specific to say about the causes of MS -  but the implication that it is the result of "toxins". Relapsing-remitting MS is exactly the kind of condition that might lead a homeopath to believe that their treatment was working.
Recent information suggests that probiotics also help the body to detoxify. The American Academy of Paediatrics’ states that 90% of methylmercury is excreted through the bile in faeces and scientist believe that with a large number of probiotic bacteria, mercury can effectively be driven towards expulsion and prevent any recycling of toxic mercury.
There are a number of things going on here. Firstly, there is the implication that mercury is a cause of autism. Oh, and vaccines contain mercury except that they generally don't. Thiomersal is not methylmercury. The confusion between the two is common in anti-vaccinationists. No sign of the American Academy of Pediactrics making such a statement can be found. It appears on a number of US CEASE therapy practitioners' websites but it also appears on the Generation Rescue website here - Sima Ash is the author. The 90% figure is quoted in a number of places such as this useful paper. How probiotic bacteria, that live in the intestines, can essentially break bonds methylmercury and proteins in the rest of the body is unknown.
The important thing to note is that AUTISM IS TREATABLE and you have every reason to hold onto hope that can help bring your child to balance. Long ago autism was thought to be a lifelong condition, but we now know that with proper therapies and treatments many people overcome autism.
"The cruelty of false hope" is a phrase that is often use. Newton say CEASE therapy is "well researched". How does she know this? No research has been published and CEASE therapy as described by Smits does not seem to cite any genuine research. 

Newton mentions something called The Extra Lesson which comes from Anthroposphy. It is Her children attended Steiner school. The Extra Lesson is essentially a Steiner approach to special needs education which dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century. How Newton reconciles CEASE therapy ideas of causation and Steiner ideas of correct child development is unknown.

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